Today, we continue our walk down the Beautiful Series memory lane with Phoenix. This one is Paige’s story before Elliot meets her in A Beautiful Forever. This was probable the hardest story I have ever written. It broke my heart time and time again, because I had to re-visit so many of my own painful memories to get the write emotion in this book.
Growing up, I was raised in a not so great area and met a lot of people whose life was filled with heartache. Paige is probably an amalgamation of all the girls I have known, who didn’t get the kind of life they should have. Her story still makes me cry, so if you’re yet to read this, be warned – there are very adult themes in this book, dealing with drug use, violence and abuse to name a few.
While very difficult, Paige’s story is one of hope. Like a phoenix from the ashes, she rose above her troubles and made a life for herself.
My favourite part in this book is when she sees Matthew again, and she finally allows herself to voice her anger at the world for all that was done to her…
Here it is –
I hang back and offer to clean things that don’t need cleaning. I can see Matthew waiting for me outside, and I don’t particularly want to go out there. Really, I wanted to tell him no earlier. But something made me agree. There’s something about him that clouds my judgement, the same as it did all those years ago. I’ve made enough stupid decisions to last me a lifetime. I’m hoping that if I stay inside long enough, he’ll get bored and leave.
“Paige. Out,” my boss orders, his hand on the door. “You’ve worked enough for the day. I’ve got paperwork to do. Go and have some fun or something.”
“I can help you with your paper work if you like,” I offer.
“There’s no need. Get some sleep, and I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Alright,” I concede, as I reluctantly pick up my bag and head outside.
Matthew walks over to me immediately, his hands in the pockets of his beaten up brown leather jacket. “I thought you were trying to stand me up,” he grins.
“No such luck,” I deadpan back at him.
“So where to? You hungry?”
“Coffee will be fine. We can talk just fine over coffee,” I tell him.
Nodding his head, he walks beside me until we reach a café and go inside. “What’ll it be?” he asks as we head to the counter.
“Just get yours. I’ll order my own.”
“No, I insist. I’ll pay.”
I open my mouth to protest, but when I meet his eyes, my mind goes blank. Looking into his eyes is like watching someone see into my soul. It’s both captivating and painful at the same time. Words escape me, and I simply stand there, staring at him with my mouth still open.
He reaches his hand up and brushes his knuckles against my cheek. “I’m glad there’s no bruising this time,” he whispers.
My eyes try to flutter closed as I lean into his hand involuntarily, but I fight to keep control. I can’t go down this path again.
“Can I help you?” the server asks from behind the counter.
Matthew keeps his eyes locked with mine. “Two strong flat whites please,” he orders.
Getting some sort of power over my own body, I place my hand on his chest and push myself away from him. “No. I’m sorry. I don’t want this,” I babble, as I start to make my way out of the coffee shop. I shake my head quickly, it’s as if I’ve just broken the effects of some sort of a spell.
Walking hurriedly, I head for the train station so I can make my way home.
“Paige!” Matthew calls, running after me.
“Just go away Matthew. I’m not doing this again,” I tell him, as I continue to walk.
“Doing what? We’re just having coffee.”
He falls in step beside me and works his way in front, so I’m forced to stop walking.
“Please move,” I say, trying to walk around him. Every time I step to the side, he’s right there with me. “What do you want from me?!” I cry out eventually.
“Isn’t it obvious Paige? I want you.”
“Really? Just like you wanted me all those years ago?”
“Yes. More than that. I haven’t stopped thinking about you.”
“You haven’t stopped thinking about me?! Seriously?”
“Of course. Don’t you understand how much I cared about you?”
“If you cared about me, why did you let me leave? You knew I had nowhere to go.”
“I… Paige. I’ve regretted that moment every day since it happened.”
“So have I Matthew. I regret sleeping with you. I regret giving into whatever it was we had. Because that moment ruined my life!”
“What do you mean?”
“You have no idea what I went through. If you had cared about me, you never would have pursued me. You never would have slept with your best friend’s girl. I had a chance with Ed, and you pursued me! I had nothing! You knew that – the moment I left that house, my life went to shit. I have been to hell and back again because you wouldn’t leave me the fuck alone!”
Anger seethes inside of me as I suddenly see him as the root of all the wrong that’s been done to me. I see that moment with him as the turning point in my life.
“Hey, I lost Ed too that day.”
“Did you? You lost your best friend? Oh poor Matthew! Poor, poor Matthew! Did you lose your home? Did you lose the only person who cared enough to look after you?”
He shakes his head. “I cared. I still care. I made a mistake. Ok. I should have told you to stay. I should have taken care of you. It was my house. Ed’s the one that left. He went back home to his parent’s house, and I haven’t seen him since.”
I can’t help myself, I raise both of my hands up and push hard against his chest. This power comes from inside me that I didn’t know was there, and it sends him stumbling backwards.
“You ruined my life!” I scream. I don’t care that we’re on the street. I don’t care that people can hear me. I don’t even care that I’m being irrational. But hearing him say how he regrets letting me walk out, breaks me.
It’s like he’s holding up a picture of a life I could have had. But he just forgot to give it to me.
He rushes me, wrapping his arms around me as I fight him with everything I have and pushes me up against the closest wall. “I’m sorry,” he breathes, taking my face in his hands. “I’m sorry.” He presses his lips against mine briefly, before wiping away my tears and planting gentle kisses on my eyes, on my forehead, in my hair. He continues trying to calm me, but I break down. Crying in the street like a woman possessed. I just can’t hold it in anymore.
My knees buckle, and I lean against him, crying into his shoulder as he holds me. He speaks to me softly. But I don’t hear a word. I’m just so lost in my own pain right now.
Eventually, I do calm down. We’re now sitting on the footpath, with people walking past us on their way either to, or from, the station.
“What happened to you Paige?” he asks, his voice filled with concern.
I push up from the ground and dust myself off. “No one saved me. That’s what happened.”
What was your favourite part? Feel free to comment below ❤